As great as it was to find out there was a new red-tailed hawk nest in the Morningside Heights neighborhood this season, it was downright anazing to learn that there were actually three. But hawkwatchers Melody and Jeff alerted us the weekend of March 19 that the nest site at nearby Grant's Tomb was active. Urban Hawks visited the area and reported on the discovery. We were up there last week and confirmed there was a hawk in the Grant's Tomb nest, but this evening, we got excellent looks at her.
No activity to be seen when we first arrived about 6:45, but a few minutes later as we were looking away from the nest, a big hawk came soaring overhead and landed in a tree near the playground atop the knoll north of the monument. It was immediately obvious she was having a meal.
But Tuesday evening was windy and perhaps that perch in the tree was too unstable to continue the meal. After a few quick bites, the hawk was in the air, circling around, first low.
(Note the extra leg hanging down. Dinner is part of a pigeon.)
A couple more circles and working higher, then briefly out of sight to the east behind the International House. Re-appearing a half minute later and hovering higher.
Another circle, and then northeast and downward, disappearing somewhere in the rooftops around Tiemann Place.
Apparently she found somewhere to finish dinner in peace, as it was about ten minutes before the hawk returned, way up when first seen.
Hovering again, and scanning the area.
And then swoop to the south and land on the railing on the light platform that holds the nest
And content she was to perch there for a while, leading us to wonder where the male was and what about the eggs. Usually when you see a female hawk return to the nest after a break, the male pops out immediately, and the female quickly looks things over and then clambers back in. But not this evening. The female stayed on the railing for close to ten minutes.
As the sun hit the horizon, she hopped down onto the platform, at which point we found out what a gentleman the male hawk was. He'd been in the nest the entire time taking care of the eggs. Despite the female having returned to the nest site ten minutes earlier, he had been considerate and waited until she actually made a move to get into the nest before he uncovered the eggs and made his exit.
So, yes, despite whatever craziness occurred last summer between Grant's Tomb red-tailed hawks and Riverside Church peregrine falcons, the hawk nest is in use again this year. Given the light eyes of the female hawk seen this evening, one suspects that she is young and not the same female who was there last year. Possibly a pair of hawks checking out the area this winter saw the old nest and decided to make use of it. Whatever the case, they are somehow co-existing — for the moment — with a pair of falcons resident less than two blocks away and another pair of red-tails about six blocks away.